England coming home after semi-final defeat

Mateo Kovacic Igor Akinfeev Russia Croatia

With a population of just over four million, Croatia is the smallest nation to reach the final match of a World Cup since Uruguay lifted the title in 1950.

The Inter Milan winger played a key role in the small Balkan nation reaching a first major final, scoring the equaliser and then setting up Mario Mandzukic for the 2-1 extra-time victor over England in their semi-final.

For a second there, it did honestly feel like it was coming home, but alas, it was not to be.

The 23-man England squad, which has an average age of just over 26 and was the tournament's third youngest, had the hopes and expectations of a nation on their shoulders.

France and Belgium are seen as the strongest teams left in the competition, which means the victor of Tuesday's match will head into the final as favourites to be crowned world champions.

The goal gave England an early 1-0 lead in the semifinal.

Large crowds gathered to watch the match against England.

Some fans had tears in their eyes as they could not believe the dream start.

But there were stunned reactions as Croatia scored the equaliser through Ivan Perisic.

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The victory improves Croatia's previous best showing at the World Cup , which ended in a 1998 semifinal loss to the host French. While England's top football players were on the pitch, its top golfers were sitting at home watching the game unfold.

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The semi-final between England and Croatia took place at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, the giant 80,000-capacity venue which will also host Sunday's grand final.

Many fans had their heads in their hands, while others shook their heads in disbelief.

Ian Broudie and co will treat fans to a live performance of their iconic football anthem before England's World Cup game.

France triumphed over Belgium in the World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday - securing themselves a place in the final - where they will play either England or Croatia.

Comedian Joe Jacobs is due to perform during the match at Top Secret, a comedy club in London's Covent Garden.

"I think it's our year this time".

England had only ever played there once (a 2-1 defeat to Russian Federation back in 2007), and it seems like the curse / losing streak is destined to continue for the time being.

The French national anthem La Marseillaise, chants of "We're in the final" and a cacophony of auto horns and fire crackers rang out over Paris Tuesday as residents of the capital celebrated France's march to the World Cup final.

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